Monday, March 31, 2008
Anytime you shut up Phillies Fans is a Great Moment. Defeating Philadelphia on Opening Day at their very own ballpark--icing on the cake. Two games into this 2008 Championship Season--Our Washington Nationals are undefeated. The first time they have been two games above .500 since late in The 2005 Inaugural Season. Just a short 16 hours after The Bang!! Zoom!! of The Fireworks gave New Nationals Park's--first game--a Hollywood Ending--Our Manager Manny Acta led Our Team onto the field at Citizens Bank Park--135 Miles up I-95--to ruin The Philadelphia Phillies Opener. Booed robustly was Washington while being introduced on the South Side--nothing like Philly Class--as Our Washington Nationals then turned the tide on The Phillie Faithful. By game end--Philadelphia's Finest Fans--The Most Obnoxious in Baseball--were giving their very own team--their usual grief. What a smile that brought to my face.
New York may be a tougher stage to compete on--but could any fan base possibly be as bad as Philadelphia's? Those Folks that would Boo Santa Claus--simply have ZERO CLASS. Nothing like DC's Team sending them all home late this afternoon upset after Our Washington Nationals trounced The Phillies 11-6.
Yeah--it's very early in a fresh season--but there were good signs today. Having to edit our news story on a 5:30PM Deadline--I was half watching the game--while trying to beat the clock.
Here are my thoughts:
Our Washington Nationals can hit!! For the first time since The Montreal Expos moved here--there are some legitimate batters in our lineup. 13 Hits at Philadelphia's Pinball Park--but there were some quality At-Bats. Hitters going the other way--with the pitch and showing power. Six Doubles today--helping to break this affair open in the top of the ninth. And remember--Wily Mo Pena and Elijah Dukes are both on The 15 Day Disabled List.
No one wearing that "Washington" Grey Jersey better than Nick Johnson--picking up where he left off his fine 2006 Campaign. Clutch hitting, Great Base Running and the ability to take a good pitch at the plate--in order to receive a better offering later. Our Number 24 could play the game at a near All-Star Level before his fateful accident. In short order--Nick's proving--once again--he is a quality Major League Player.
And just as expected--the resurgence of NJ--goes hand in hand with Austin Kearns. "Bluegrass" hitting to the opposite field--stroking some key hits and continuing to play a terrific all around game in right field. Jeff Francouer of The Atlanta Braves may have the better arm, but Our Number 25 is developing into the far better right fielder. Having no longer to worry about whether NJ will return and play--Austin Kearns is demonstrating the skills and ability so many believed he possessed.
Welcome back--both of you.
Even "The Guz" pounded out two hits from the top of the order today. Speaking of Cristian Guzman--he made some poor throws last night to first base--while playing shortstop. But, The Atlanta Broadcasters made an interesting comment this evening while The African Queen and I were watching The Braves take on The Pittsburgh Pirates from Turner Field. Remember that silly fielding error last night at New Nationals Park? During the top of the 5th--Atlanta's Matt Diaz stroked a lazy grounder right to Guzman at short. Our Number 15 didn't move in on the ball and let the bouncer play him. Unquestionably--"The Guz" could have made a better play. But Atlanta's broadcasters noted ON AIR that Chipper Jones told them the infield grass at New Nationals Park was cut--uneven. This fact making any hit grounder an adventure. Jones stating the manicure made the speed of any stroked baseball--sometimes difficult to judge.
It was an interesting comment. Is it true?
Now how about Lasting Milledge? Lastings--Buddy--If you wish to raise and flap your arm after hitting a home run in the middle of a baseball game--as you did this afternoon--that's fine with me. Because I know you fully understand and have the guts to stand up at the plate and possibly take one right up side your head--the very next time you stand in the batter's box. That's Brave--My Friend--and all the power to you. Stating you are not going to be backing down to anybody--I like that bravado--gutsy. By the way, that stroke ball was a BLAST--the type of stuff so many expect of you for years to come.
But Lastings, when you are rounding third base and heading home with the go ahead run--in the top of the ninth--and the game on the line. And--there is going to be a close play at the plate. And--Austin Kearns is signaling you to GET DOWN!! And--Our Number 25 is waving you to go to the outside of home to avoid the tag--YOU BETTER DO IT!! Trying to run OVER the tag is just plain dumb baseball. After Nick Johnson knocked one off the wall to give you that scoring opportunity--please don't waste it by giving The Phillies Catcher--Carlos Ruiz--a better chance to tag you out. Sliding--you would have scored easily. Standing up--you nearly cost Our Washington Nationals the rally. Besides--how many runners have broken their legs or ankles by attempting the same move?
Nick Johnson may be the worst sliding man in baseball--but he would have hit the dirt--rolled over--and somehow ended up FACE FIRST. But, he also would have scored. Please learn from the experience.
Our One Time "Starter In Training" took the ball to the mound in Philadelphia. Matt Chico continues to survive in The Majors. Never overpowering, but somehow effective--he only walked one--gave up the usual Home Run--but stepped off the mound with the lead. Although--I didn't notice that much of difference in his newly re-found leg kick. Matt Chico's delivery looks pretty much the same as the one he used during his 2007 Rookie Campaign. Still, Our Number 47 loses command of his pitches at times--but seems to possess the ability to regroup and get out of most jams.
Saul Rivera may be one of the best unknown relievers in the game. The man with the rubber arm--ready to pitch each and every day. Whether you need Our Number 52 to stretch the game and get his team to the set up guys--or make the occasional save opportunity--is their anyone more valuable out of Our Bullpen? Rivera has accepted the role of Luis Ayala--2005 Vintage. Our Number 56 use to pitch every day possible--until he blew out his elbow at The World Baseball Classic. Again in Philadelphia today--some quality work by Rivera--shutting down a Phillies Rally after Ray King gave up the game tying two run homer--to Jimmy Rollins. Saul received the win for this game and deserves more accolades than previously given.
What should Our Washington Nationals do in Left Field? Willie Harris doesn't have any pop. He may well be very versatile--but Washington needs a bat in the lineup. Since he's available and unquestionably--has no fear--why not Justin Maxwell? At least until Wily Mo Pena and Elijah Dukes return from the DL. No time better than the present to test your future. Our Number 1 may offer some good skills--but Willie Harris will not be here--two years from now. Maxwell may well be. Sometimes--opportunity given results in a quality player rewarded and justly, into your lineup. No one can say Justin Maxwell does not deserve the chance.
Finally--fearing for "The Chief"--shoulder tendinitis is one thing--but a cortisone shot that makes you feel worse--a completely different problem. Chad Cordero is apparently hurting. Will Our Washington Nationals rush him back too soon? Please, just let Our Number 32 get 100% healthy. "The Most Thrilling Closer In The Game" is of no use--if he can't command all his pitches. It's only the first week of the season--6 Full Months remain. Plenty of time for Chad Cordero to get well and help Our Washington Nationals in 2008 and beyond. The African Queen says her palpitating heart awaits his return.
Curly "W" Number Two of this young season was very gratifying. Not only because Philadelphia's Fans went home unhappy--but because Our Washington Nationals showed some fight--for the second consecutive game. Version 4.0 of DC's Major League Baseball Team has shown guts--character that goes along way toward building a successful team. While Philadelphia's Fans proved--once again--what characters they truly are.
Today's In Game Photos--(AP) Tom Mihalek